Margaret Mae Gross


As amazing as it may seem in this day and age of large, consolidated schools, the idea of my attending a one-room school was exciting!  In March 1930, we moved from Jefferson, Iowa to Ames, where I would be attending Clearview School, located about one mile south of Ames.  Our farm was two miles further south of the school.

Clearview School was a very special school for the 1930s.  It wasn’t the standard wooden one-room school, but it was constructed of brick with a furnace in the basement play area plus two indoor toilets.  All very unusual and much appreciated.

Yes, we did have the usual small school desks for the children, and the teacher’s desk was at the front of the room, with blackboards both at the front and also on the right-hand side.  To the left and back of us were windows that let in the sunshine and through which we could look out onto the schoolyard.

My mother had been kind enough to teach me to read, so I started out with a definite advantage when attending Clearview.  As a matter of fact, I dearly loved to read and found it fascinating; both my parents enjoyed reading, and they passed that love on to me.

I don’t remember my first teacher very well; I believe her name was Miss Lilian Kirkman, and I thought her a pleasant lady.  The next teacher, however, was Miss Alice Bireline, and that lady was one dynamo of energy.  She felt our school had not had adequate teaching, and she really started us studying according to her standards.  She was one of several sisters teaching in our area, and I thought her an excellent teacher.

One of the lacks we had, according to Miss Bireline, was proper pronunciation.  She would write the words on the blackboard and then have us say the words in unison.  We were happy to participate in this.  I believe Miss Bireline stayed two or three years with us, and we made a great deal of progress in our learning.  She also had us doing physical exercises in the basement of the building.

Our next teacher was Helen Buechler – a lady I remember as another dynamo of energy.  She was from a farming community north of Boone, Iowa, and we visited her and her family several times during her stay at Clearview School.  She was very good, and we learned much from her.

Miss Buechler wanted us to do a lot of outdoor exercising, especially baseball.  She taught us a lot about that sport, and I must admit that we seemed to become quite good at the game.  One of the outstanding memories I have of her teaching us baseball was that we played against the Evergreen School one spring.  We were a team made up of mostly girls, and Evergreen School had mostly boys.  And we won!  The Evergreen boys were furious and swore that we didn’t play fair.

Miss Gangstad was my final teacher at the country school, and she taught us up through our eighth grade graduation.  This graduation was county-wide and was held in Nevada.  I can remember that my grandma made me a green organdy dress to wear to the graduation.

Going to a rural school, you learned a great deal.  Not only did you interact with those in your class, but you tended to help the others in the school who were youn ger than you.  The teachers encouraged this.

When I graduated from Clearview School, I went directly into the Ames schools, where I entered the ninth grade.  I rode the Des Moines to Ames bus, getting off at the bus depot in the morning and then walking the short distance to the school.

When I was in the lower grades at Clearview, we had fairly large classes (six or seven children; later we were lucky to have two or three).  Only one person at Clearview continued in my class on through high school; his name was Arthur Riley.

The Harper children attended Clearview while they lived in the area.  Harlan was in the same grade with me, and his brother Dick was ahead of us.  Roger and several other brothers were behind us.  Harlan’s sister Dorothy and I were good friends until the time that the Harper family sold their farm to the planned-for Ames city airport.

We also had the Overland children in our school, and "Bud" was in my class.  Interestingly, I didn’t know that Bud’s name was Orman until about the 5th or 6th grade.  We were all astounded when the teacher called out the name of Orman Overland.  His sister Gladys was a grade or so ahead of us, his sister Marie was several grades ahead, and his brother Junior (Gunnar) and his sister Karine were in lower grades.

There were, of course, many others I knew who attended the school for only a year or two – some because they were ahead of us and went on to high school and some who lived in the neighborhood for only a short time.

One person I remembered quite well was Elizabeth Lange because she was one of the "big kids" but was very friendly to the younger kids.  She was a very nice person.  Many years later I discovered she was married and lived near a friend of mine, and we’ve had opportunities to visit occasionally.

Throughout my lifetime I was fortunate enough to be frieds with the Zenor family.  The mother of the family and my mother were good friends, and I was privileged to be friends with the children.  Nondas Zenor was the oldest daughter, and she and I became very good friends.  Nondas was just one class behind me through high school.

I felt very fortunate to have attended Clearview School.  Ames High School was very helpful to me; it gave me excellent training in the business and math classes I needed when I went to work for the Iowa State University Library in 1941.  I began as a library clerk and soon was assigned as secretary to the librarian, Charles Harvey Brown.  At his retirement, I continued as secretary to his successor, Robert W. Orr, and at his retirement to Warren B. Kuhn.  When Mr. Kuhn was designated as the first Dean of Library Services, I was named his Administrative Assistant, a post I held until I was named Assistant to the Dean.  I retired in 1989, after 48 years of continuous service.